Why every day at National Trust is more interesting and fulfilling than any other role I’ve worked in

Published : Tue 14th Jun Author : Alison Edwards, Head of Legacy Development and Individual Giving

How long have you been working at National Trust?

I started in October 2014 – so just under 18 months.

What attracted you to join the National Trust?

Before the National Trust, I worked at the University of Oxford for 12 years in a variety of externally-facing roles focusing on communications strategy planning and brand development, as well as alumni and donor relationship management. I'd always wanted to work in the arts or heritage sector – I read History at University – but the right opportunity had never really come along until I heard about the role here. Although I had practically no experience of legacy fundraising when I joined 18 months ago, I did have a lot of very relevant skills and a good background of working in a developed, complex organisation. The fact that the role was with the National Trust really grabbed my attention. I grew up playing on National Trust beaches in Northumberland and walking the Fells in the Lake District so their outdoors work was just as important to me as my interest in the cultural heritage they cared for.

Can you share a little more about your role?

I joined the National Trust as their first Head of Legacy Marketing. I was given the responsibility of building a new four person team that had the ambitious target of increasing the number of people leaving a gift to the Trust in their will from around 200 per annum to 1000 over a five year period.

So, it's been very much about setting the strategy, developing the systems and processes and overseeing a huge increase in our marketing communications activity. Most importantly, it's about getting out and raising the profile of legacy income and showing colleagues across the organisation how important it is.

In February this year, my role grew into Head of Legacy Development and Individual Giving so I'm now responsible for the strategy, planning and management of the Trust's intermediate-level giving programmes. These cover everything from mid-high value planned and commemorative giving to community fundraising. As a team, we're looking at growing income each year, actively developing the prospect pool in lots of imaginative ways to make sure we're taking great care of our current donors and pledgers to achieve long-term growth.

Has joining the National Trust lived up to your expectations?

It has gone well beyond them! It is just amazing to be working for an organisation whose values are so close to my own – every day is interesting and fulfilling in a way that I just didn't experience in previous roles. I love working with people who are so incredibly passionate about what they do, in every area of the organisation. It is incredibly special to be able to go from a meeting where someone is talking about the work we're doing on trying to understand river catchments, to a briefing on some of the items in our conservation backlog in urgent need of restoration, to a coffee break with someone from marketing to talk about our latest campaign to get children more involved with nature. And the best part of it all? Knowing that I'm raising funds to make a real, tangible difference to our ability to undertake all of these exciting things.

What would you say to someone thinking of joining Fundraising at the National Trust?

Just do it – you'll never find another charity that's quite like the National Trust!

Alison Edwards, Head of Legacy Development and Individual Giving